Australia slips in neurology research rankings


By Michael Woodhead

24 Mar 2021

Australia is punching above its weight in neurology research publication but has lost out to rising countries such as China in recent years, new figures show.

In 2010 Australia ranked fifth in the world in terms of authorship in peer-reviewed neurology journals such as Lancet Neurology, Acta Neuropathologica, Nature Reviews Neurology, Brain and Annals, a study by researchers at the University of NSW found.

Australians were first authors on 33 neurology papers (5% of total), behind countries such as the US (220 papers, 30%), UK (113, 16%), Germany (77, 11%) and the Netherlands (43, 6%).

However when the same review was carried out for 2019, the number of neurology papers published by Australia had fallen by a third with only 22 papers published. This meant Australia dropped to sixth place in neurology publications (3% of total), being overtaken by Canada (5%) and Italy (5%) in first authorship.

When analysed in terms of origin of data, there were 24 neurology papers with Australian data in 2010 (3% of total), and 14 papers (2%) in 2019.

The analysis also showed that the major growth in neurology publication had occurred in publications from China, whose first authorship numbers in peer reviewed journals doubled from 8 to 17 between 2010 and 2019.

However, of the 647 neurology research articles analysed in 2019, only 21 (3.2%) included data from a developing country.

The study authors said the paucity of research papers from developing countries was cause for concern, and they should be the focus of neurology research given their large and rising burden of neurological conditions.

There is urgent need for strategies to support high-quality and contextually appropriate biomedical research in developing countries. Supporting high quality and contextually appropriate biomedical research now is necessary for developing countries to meet the rising healthcare needs of their populations in the future.

The findings are published in BMC Medical Research.

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